Thanks to ten years of Government obsession with targets and legislation, the Chief Inspector of Probation says that many offenders are not monitored or supervised properly because there are too many demands on probation staff in England and Wales. Writing in HM Inspectorate of Probation Annual Report, Andrew Bridges says:
"Over the past ten years the increasing demands have included new Orders or requirements for drug treatment and testing, for accredited programmes and for managing prolific offenders, extended periods of post-release supervision, increased public protection expectations, enhanced standards of quality for unpaid work and other supervision requirements. Case numbers have also increased by taking in less serious offenders, due in part to pressures to meet national quantitative targets and in part due to the general increasing severity of Court sentencing – a decade earlier many such offenders would have been fined."Here in Kent, Maidstone Prison has today been condemned for its drugs culture, dirty and untidy facilities, and lack of training opportunities for inmates — problems compounded by the reopening of a wing deemed "unfit for purpose" in a belated attempt by the Government to deal with the national lack of prison places. Coming on the back of the recent announcement by the Home Office to release 25,500 prisoners early each year in order to ease prison overcrowding, is anybody else concerned that the Prisons and Probation Services will no longer be able to "punish, help, change and control" offenders? What ever happened to "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime"?